Keys are everywhere, each one unique and used for the purpose of securing something valuable. Keys might be shared with someone trusted, almost certainly never with the world. A key can be copied, but it almost never works quite as well as the original. Have you ever found a key and not known what it was for? The only certainty is that its purpose is to unlock something else, to keep something safe until the key can be used.
In a metaphorical sense, keys unlock many things. I am sure you have heard phrases such as “the key to happiness” or the “key to academic success”. These phrases are tossed around in such a way that they often ignore the very essence of what it means to have unlocked the door to discover these things. They look to the ideas on a very minimal level to give people some basic ideas but not the deep, meaningful truth. The key might fit the keyhole but does nothing more.
I have had the opportunity this year to spend a bit more time with students. Most of the time, the interactions are short and out of class, but these little interactions are the keys to getting to know them. I get to talk with students between classes, at lunchtime, and sometimes when they need help. I have had little chats about difficulties they are experiencing in class or on the playground. While these might seem minor, it is huge and sometimes overwhelming to a young student. What brought us together initially has helped to develop a deeper relationship.
So, what does this all have to do with keys?
A group of my new little friends come by to visit me at my desk occasionally. They come to tell me about their day and what’s going on. They come with pride in the news of house points awarded to them. One day in particular, my little group came in to announce that they had earned 3 house points that day! It was such a big deal to them and so it was to me that I was able to celebrate their successes. I asked them to come back at the end of the day.
My little friends showed back up, right on time, eager to know why I asked them to return. I handed them each a key. A key? Obviously, they were puzzled. It was a key, a boring old key. Why would I think they should have a key? I explained that it was really important because they had found a key to being successful. They had worked hard, understood what their teachers expected, and figured out how to make that happen. This was all about their character. We can all take steps to achieve something. But, do we grow? Have we learned? Are we changed? Are we only copying the “key?”
This is what is so unique and special about Saint Constantine. Being a person of character matters. It matters deeply. It matters for our school community, for our students as individuals, and for our world. We must take the time to develop good character, because it is the key to a thriving life. Finding that what unlocks that door for each individual student is just like any other key, it is unique for them. We just need to find the right one.